Iona’s Scott Machado is the Most Underrated Prospect in the NBA Draft

By: Kels Dayton

Scott Machado walked into the empty gym at the Boys and Girls Republic on 6th Street in Manhattan last week with no fanfare—no entourage surrounding him.

He strolled in alone, equipped in sweats and KD IV sneakers, like a high school kid who had just come in to shoot around after school.

At 6-1, 180 lbs., Machado doesn’t look like an NBA prospect.

He certainly doesn’t look like the nation’s leader in assists (9.9 apg), or the lead guard on the most prolific offense in the country (82.9 ppg).

In fact, to watch him shoot around, you wouldn’t even know that he had a chance to make it to the next level.

Scott Machado led the nation in assists last season. (AP Photo)

Machado won’t dazzle anyone with his outside shot, and he threw up a couple of bricks over the course of the workout we attended. (Still, he caught fire at one point, knocking down 15 straight threes).

But throw on the tape of Machado at Iona, and you won’t believe your eyes. You’ll see him bounding up and down the court, lacing pinpoint passes to the perfect guy at the perfect time. He was the Steve Nash of the MAAC last season, playing a level that few in college basketball could reach.

“Scott is a game player,” said his trainer, Ross Burns of Pro Hoops, Inc. “He does so many things to help his team that don’t necessarily show up in a workout.”

Asked if his workout performances might hurt his draft stock, Burns said, “Teams know that…if they did their homework.”

But some teams haven’t yet figured it out. Machado is being projected as a mid-to-late second round pick on most mock draft boards.

You can talk all you want about his rickety J, his lack of size, or the competition level in the MAAC, but when he is on his game, Machado is nearly unstoppable. His first-half performance in the NCAA Tournament against BYU speaks for itself.

Machado put up nine assists in the first half, and orchestrated a basketball masterpiece, as Iona put up 55 points in 17-plus minutes.

He was seeing two and three moves ahead, dodging Cougars defenders like traffic cones, and dropping room-service dimes to teammates who didn’t even know they were open.

Machado’s Gaels were playing so well that CBS analyst and former Phoenix Suns GM Steve Kerr called him “an NBA player for sure,” and exclaimed, “Iona is playing like the Miami Heat right now,” during the television broadcast.

Iona blew a 25-point lead and lost the game, but no one that saw what happened would blame Machado.

“We just stopped putting the ball in the basket,” Machado said. “And when we couldn’t do that it just changed up our whole game.” BYU’s size and zone defense didn’t help, either.

Still, Iona’s first-half showing was legendary, and any point guard who can ramp it up to that level has the capability to play in the NBA.

When asked to describe his game, Machado said that he considers himself a playmaker.

“I think ahead of the game like a possession before,” he said. “I’m a point guard. I like to be what a point guard is. If we’re playing one-on-one then I like to create my own shot, but [otherwise] it’s creating, being a playmaker.”

The New York Knicks could sure use that type of player, and just so happen to select 48th overall, right when the kid from Queens is sure to be at the top of draft boards.

Machado said that he has no preference as to where he goes, but when he was asked about the prospects of playing in New York, he smiled and said, “That wouldn’t be a problem.”

The kid is humble, hungry, and diplomatic. And like many prospects who slipped through the cracks, (Tony Parker comes to mind), Machado is much better in the game than he is in the shootaround.

Teams often forget about players like that.

And that’s why Scott Machado just may be the most underrated prospect in the 2012 draft.

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